Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

Proving Liability in a Bellevue Truck Crash Claim

Posted Friday, April 28, 2023 by Chris Thayer

The sheer amount of force in a semi-truck wreck, not to mention the fact that these vehicles carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel, often causes catastrophic injuries. The economic losses alone in such a case usually exceed $150,000. It is almost impossible to put a price tag on the noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. These cases are even more complex because, as outlined below, they usually involve another layer of liability.

Because of all these difficulties, only the most experienced Bellevue personal injury lawyer should handle a truck crash claim. All too often, inexperienced lawyers are not prepared for all the legal and factual issues in a truck crash claim. So, they look for a quick settlement or an easy way out. Since so much money is at stake, settling for less is simply not an option for most truck crash victims.

*First Party Liability*Legal responsibility for a truck crash begins with the duty of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. But Washington law holds truck drivers to a higher standard since they are professional drivers with additional training and experience. Instead of a duty of reasonable care, truck drivers and other professional drivers have a duty of utmost care.

The law reflects this difference. Most highways have lower speed limits for semi-trucks than passenger vehicles. Additionally, truckers must comply with strict weight and other limits.

The higher duty of care makes it easier for a Bellevue personal injury lawyer to prove negligence, or a lack of care. That negligence is usually driver impairment or aggressive driving.

Truck driver fatigue is a serious issue. After eighteen consecutive awake hours, motor skills and judgment ability impairment are equivalent to alcohol intoxication impairment. Shortcuts, like drinking coffee, help drowsy drivers feel more alert. But these shortcuts don’t address the underlying effects of fatigue.

Speaking of shortcuts, many truckers use amphetamines to stave off the effects of fatigue. These drugs help alertness, but they further impair judgment ability. Additionally, when these drugs wear off, users crash very fast and very hard.

Aggressive driving, like unsafe turning, also causes many truck crashes. Truckers often operate in unfamiliar areas. Sudden road changes, like a right-turn-only lane, often catch them off guard, even if they are using a GPS navigation system. Today’s trucks are so huge that even a slight emergency move could cause the truck to careen out of control.

*Third-Party Liability*The aforementioned additional layer is respondeat superior employer liability. Drivers are legally responsible for the wrecks they cause. The transportation, shipping, or other company that owns the truck or the cargo is financially responsible for the damages these crashes cause, at least in most cases.

Respondeat superior applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was an employee who was working within the course and scope of employment. State law broadly defines these key terms. For example, many truckers are independent contractors or owner-operators for most financial purposes. But these truckers are employees for negligence purposes since the company controls their behavior to a certain extent.

Other employer liability theories, which often apply in assault and other intentional tort cases, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.

*Connect With a Dedicated King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Bellevue, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.